Training Needs Assessment & Program Design and Development - Training Essay Example
Training Needs Assessment & Program Design and Development
Introduction to Training Needs Assessment
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With changing time, organizations have to adapt to changing external and internal environments of the organization so that they are in line with the fast paced world of today. With progression comes newer technology and methodology of getting things done with the organization. However, many a times the newer technology and processes and procedures are not understood by the employees who then have difficulties in adjusting to the work environment. For this purpose, the employees need to be trained and provided with the skills that will enable them to be able to comprehend the new operations of the business. This training also helps them to define their own roles and responsibilities so that the organization is well balanced and the tasks are properly divided.
Training Needs Assessment basically is not a fixed patterned phenomenon; the essence and concept remains the same but the pattern, procedures and methodology change depending from one situation to another. Therefore, it is literally defined as “a process that must be configured to meet the situation at hand”. The need for training can be raised due to different circumstances; every situation has a different aim and goal with different patterns and methods to deal with. Training needs assessment involves an evaluation and analysis of a certain situation; therefore, it is clearly an information based and analytical procedure. Several methodologies can be used to acquire the information that has to be analyzed – surveys, face to face interviews, questionnaires, silent observation, experimentation, focus group studies and collecting information and data from other sources such as the internet and books along with material that has been published in magazines and journals. Not every methodology and procedure of attaining information is suitable in every situation; this is an extremely customized procedure which is different for every situation. Therefore, selection of which medium of information gathering to be used is to depend on the situation and whichever suits the situation the best.
Training needs assessment has different definitions depending on the purpose of the situation – firstly, as the term suggests, it is the evaluation of a situation and concluding whether a certain situation needs training sessions and long term or short term training or not by training specialists and other human resources department personnel; secondly, this is the assessment and evaluation of the expected performance and the actual performance of the organization and then do the ‘gap fulfillment’ by recognizing the areas in which training is needed; this is also known as the performance analysis or simply the needs assessment; thirdly and lastly is the merger of property one and two – it is the assessment of the training results and training that takes place in order to remove the gap in the expected and actual performance (MDF Tool, 2005).
Training needs assessment can also be defined as a system – like any other system it also has three steps; input, processing and output. The input is all the information that is acquired from various sources of data collection; processing is the evaluation and analysis of all variables and situations; lastly, output is the conclusion and recommendations of the next steps to be taken and done. The next steps might hint towards taking a step towards training but it also might be against training; so training need analysis does not necessarily mean that it favors training and it should take place under all circumstances. Plus, training is not always the only solution that is given; other actions which are more suited are also suggested. These include, sharp role defining, improved and detailed feedback, job rotation, revision of job description, goal clarification, better measures of performance. It can, however, also be a combination of both training and some other action.
Every organization can work at its best if all its employees are well informed and are allowed to take part in decision making; centralized decision making is no more the better option. When the employees’ opinion is given importance and a participative approach is used with them, their satisfaction with their job, positive/negative attitude towards the situation (as needed for the benefit of the organization), loyalty towards the organization and hard work in their job increase. Therefore, at the first, all the employees of Maddox will be called in a meeting which will be a seminar introducing the new program and making sure everybody is informed and agrees with it to a great extent. The floor should then be open for discussion to understand whether the employees have a positive attitude towards this new program or if they disagree with it. Once a person understands this, many things become clear; how to approach the employees in the future becomes comprehendible.
This discussion can also be taken as a focus group that can help the director understand how well the employees understand the project and how well they can adjust to the change. Also, the director alone cannot implement the new project; thus, it is critical for him to evaluate how well the employees understand the details and vital points of the project so judge whether the employees will be able to assist in implementing the project or not. Once all the evaluations are made, the director will get a clearer picture of what the status of the employees is regarding the new project; depending on that, strategies will be made for training. If they are completely acquainted with the project, then they do not need much of training, but if they do not understand it, then a rampant and widespread training might be needed. But before training, their level of understanding is the determinant of how deeply the project needs to be explained; if there is confusion in only one or two places, it is evident that not much explanation is needed.
As the director, I would first need to make sure that they have a positive inclination and attitude towards the project; unless they like the project and agree to its needs and benefits, they would never want to undergo training. Therefore, to gain organization wide support for training, I will have to first make sure everybody is happy and content with the new project, thus, that being my first aim. As soon as this aim is accomplished, then only I shall move on the part where training is needed; such an approach should at all times be non-derogatory. There are many employees who have an egoistic side to them and are never up for training as this undermines their intellect, skills and abilities in their perception; they fail to realize that this causes their own competencies to increase and outshine.
One of the very important factors is the selection of the appropriate and accurate methodology of the gathering and acquisition of information and feedback. This is the part where we look for input. Considering that Maddox has a large employee base, interviewing everybody individually will be extremely time consuming and everybody will have varying opinions causing more confusion. Focus groups can be an option since a greater number of people can be interviewed and judged with the help of one session – focus group can have around 15 people with a moderator who drives and swerves the discussion in a certain direction so that the debate does not digress from the main point. It should be known, however, that focus groups can get out of control and become rowdy, chaotic, heated and eventually useless as the moderator is too busy solving the conflicts to actually evaluate the opinions and judge the success of the new program and its design.
Surveys are the most convenient as there are fixed questions on which the director can base his judgment on. There are certain quantitative numbers of questions that are easy to measure and calculate for majority results since they have a numerical base; for example; to what extent do you understand the ________________ features of the _________ program? Options would be: (a) 10-20% (b) 40-50% (c) 70-80% (d) 100%
This is an easier way of classifying the employees in different ranges and then calculating the maximum number of employees in a certain range to see how well the program has been understood; depending on which the training will be planned. The surveys and questionnaires are always easier for an employee to fill out as he can use his own personal time to fill it out and also do it according to his convenience whenever he or she is free. It is also faster as there’s no need to get an appointment from a person for an interview which usually takes time because mostly people are busy almost all the time. I also recommend that literature about this program, pre published or published in customization to the organization, should be distributed in the organization for each employee to read, understand and judge to form an opinion.
However, the director should definitely conduct personal interviews with important and significant people of the organization; such as the HR personnel at higher posts and all the department heads and not forgetting the CEO and managers. Their opinions can be extremely vital as they also understand the organization and the employee needs extremely well and can contribute in the strategies and training methodologies. Plus, the director needs to understand how well these critical people of the organization have understood his program; because if they have misunderstood or not understood it in any way, the organizational goals of various departments will clash and the activities, strategies and paths will all become haphazard (University of Missouri Extension, 2008)
Program Design and Development
The result of the survey showed that most of employees believed they should focus on team development and after a training needs assessment, it was concluded that it is one of the topics and matters that the employees need training regarding because no matter what, the employees need to work in teams for the new program to be successfully implemented. Therefore, the main focus should remain on team development and team culture building (Baron, 1998).
Objectives of Training Program
The basic focus would to build the team and its foundation in such a manner that there is the team is a ‘team’ in its literal sense and not just a group of people with conflicting ideas. This, however, does not mean that everybody in the team should have the same view points; different view points in a team are appreciated as it pools in greater ideas and better solution can then be chosen. By a strong base and foundation, the director is looking for a team that might have conflicting opinions but have the sense and unity to sit and discuss different perspectives, weigh the pros and cons and decide which suggestion or idea suits the situation the best; everybody can then also analyze the best solution according to its adaptability and suitability in the organization. For that, another underlying cause is also targeted; dealing with diversity – a team can never have members of the same sort, there have to be certain differences which can range from religion to just the attitude towards a certain subject. However, in any case, whatever the type of diversity is, a team member cannot have a strong team base unless he understands the importance of tolerating and enjoying people from diverse background. Thus, one of the major objectives would be to train them to live and love diversity!
Key Program Components
Training should always be systematic so that when a person learns one step, he can move to another one which is usually tougher than the first one; so basically, the first step prepares the employee for the next step. Therefore, the planning of the components is very thought out and well-designed. The following steps have been defined below:
Introduction to Team Structure
Keeping the current advancements of the world in mind, there is a need to understand the requirement of a horizontal or flat structure. Vertical hierarchies were very common in olden days, but with increasing progression of the world, more team based cultures are being explored. There are various organizational structures that exist; functional, divisional, matrix and even team based. The team based structure includes various kinds of teams which includes temporary teams, permanent teams, task forces etc. When one works on a team, he is not restricted to just a few ideas and perspectives; in fact, on a team there are a number of individuals in different varieties. This leads to a number of different perspectives, ideas, skills and expertise – this leads to a much more detailed analysis of various situations with different angles so that there is no loop hole left in the proposal of plan that is being worked out or evaluated.
Additionally, in a team structure unlike other structures, there is relatively more flexibility and there are no hierarchies; that is, everybody has almost equal authority to give suggestions and form a decision. Team structure gives people a chance of working with various kinds of people and putting your heart and soul into the same project as them – this is a great learning as far as organizational behavior is concerned. These teams are usually made up of people from various departments to increase the variety of people; so for example, if one team has a representative from the sales department, accounting department, marketing department, finance department etc., people from various backgrounds and expertise can give their opinion about a certain project so that all perspectives are kept in mind and collaborated before any decision is made.
Understanding Team Work
With evolving time, reduction in hierarchies and introduction of much more flatter organization with basically a horizontal structure, the team structure has received the significance it deserves (Jeanie, 1993). With the team structure comes massive teamwork – which is to have a bunch of people work together towards a certain goal. For a successful organization with a team structure, it is important to have a strong network of people who can work in collaboration with one another in teams. If there are usual disputes in a team and no teamwork can be done, the entire point of having a more participative approach of teamwork will become useless.
Diverse Team members
With team work comes diversity because there are various different members who are part of one team and working towards a common goal. Unless diversity is understood, appreciated and dealt with, no team can be properly developed. Diversity is defined as a point or respect in which things differ, that is, the variation of certain aspects in a team. A team usually has a common goal but everybody on that team might not have the same way of dealing with the situation and achieving that goal. This shows a difference and diversity in everybody’s perspectives and attitudes – this variation in thought comes due to various kinds of diversity within a person or present in his external environment.
There are many differences that can arise in a team – these include cultural differences, personality clashes, racial differences, professional, religious, political, qualification, personal, social level, gender differences and what not. It can also arise because of differing attitudes, values and behaviors in an organization by various people (Johny, 2007). These people with varying backgrounds can be part of one team, leading to differences and disputes. This hinders the individual performances, team bonding, team culture, the performance of a team as a whole which leads to the goal of the team not being met. Eventually, this affects the overall performance and goal achievement of the organization. Therefore, something as little as having a male and female together on one team can have such a far fetched detrimental affect on the organization. This illustrates the need for a well diversified labor force with people who enjoy diversity.
Putting it all together:
Therefore, putting all three key components in place together, it is easy to conclude that understanding diversity in teams is as important as learning what team work means and how team structures work. These key components should be taught in the above order because unless a person understands what a team is, he will not understand what team work is and why is should be present, and lastly, what difficulties can be faced during trying to achieve a perfectly coordinated team.
Relevant Tools and Techniques for Program Administration
There have been many times when the organization has faced challenging situations due mistakes and blunders on part of the employees. However, it is a commonly known fact that unless a person experiences a situation, he will not learn completely; because when somebody warns and tries to teach through a lecture or seminar, one tends to lose concentration because it generally is too theoretical. Practical learning has always been the best of all because it increases the retention power of a certain situation in the heads of the employees if they experience a situation and mess it up due to heir mistakes – such mistakes are rarely repeated compared to a theory which people tend to forget (Velasquez, 2002).
Therefore, it has been decided that the tool used would be ‘simulation’ and totally activity based. The first step would be to randomly form teams consisting of people from different departments and different backgrounds (age, gender, race, religion, position in the organization, qualification, expertise and skills etc), who have preferably not worked together before – even strangers. Then they would be given half an hour to know each other, bond and form a relationship strong enough to have a team culture. They would then be assigned tasks one after the other in which they would be responsible for coming up a solution to a certain problem as a team. After the team has experienced differences, diverse backgrounds and been through the tough phase of working with diverse people towards a strong goal as a result of team work; then they will be given feedback on their activities. This feedback will be linked to the concepts of team structures, team work and diversity in teams. This will help the employees learn better.
Skills that Participants will Gain upon Completing the Program
They would for sure learn how to be patient and tolerant towards people who do not agree with you and have conflicting views. Also it gives a good listening and comprehending power when different perspectives would have to be heard and understood. Being less egoistic, less ethnocentric and more appreciative are three qualities and skills that a person is sure to develop. Being open minded and eager to listen, learn and change along with being extremely focused on the team goal instead of getting swamped and tangled up with team conflicts, would also be another of the skills acquired. Also, unity and loyalty towards their team members, upon which the entire teamwork is based would a concept refreshed in their memories.
Designing and developing a program can only happen once a training needs analysis is conducted throughout the organization. This analysis reveals how much the employees are aware of the new program that needs to be implemented, how much they truly understand it, and whether they will be able to adjust their skills accordingly or would need training for this purpose are three things that are extremely important for a planner to know in order to set the objectives, key components, tools of learning and the aim of the skill acquisition. If Maddox implements the program after a successful training needs analysis followed by the proper implementation of the key components and objectives of the plan, the new program can be a huge success and can take Maddox to new heights.
(2005); Training Needs Assessment; MDF Tool. Accessed February 28, 2009 from http://assets.sportanddev.org/downloads/training_needs_assessment.pdf
(2008); Program Planning & Development – Program Logic Model; University of Missouri Extension Accessed February 28, 2009 from http://extension.missouri.edu/staff/programdev/plm/
Baron, J., (1998); Precis Centre for the Economics and Management of Aquatic Resources (CEMARE), University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom. Accessed February 28, 2009 from http://www.faocopemed.org/reports/tna/method_pr.htm
Jeanie, D. (1993), Managing Change: The Art of Balancing, Harvard Business Review
Johny, T., (2007); Critique of Teamwork
Velasquez, M.G. (2002) Business ethics: Concepts and cases, 5th edition, Prentice-Hall